Iskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN) under St. Francis in the Foothills UMC
Tucson, Arizona, USA
MissionIskashitaa Refugee Network creates opportunities to integrate UN refugees into the Southern Arizona community while educating the public, strengthening the local food system, reducing local food waste, and increasing food security.
What We DoIskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN) is an inter-generational network of Tucson volunteers and UN refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, who locate, harvest, and re-distribute locally grown fruits and vegetables which would otherwise go to waste. IRN's goal is to empower recently arrived refugees by connecting them with a wide variety of resources and opportunities to interact with the community. Through gleaning activities, refugees are introduced to local farms, hydroponic and aquaponics operations, farmer's markets and other community festivities as well as backyard and community gardens. IRN teaches community members about sustainable food systems and fruit tree identification, harvesting techniques and seeks to increase food security and improve self-sufficiency among refugee households and other families in need. Refugees from ~30 ethnic groups learn the geography of Tucson, gain valuable life skills, improve their English, develop a US work history and access to healthy foods and food preservation techniques.
Iskashitaa operates the only year-round gleaning program in Southern Arizona and educates on the multiple uses of traditional and nontraditional, native and non-native fruits, nuts, pods, seeds, and even flowers. Harvests include over 20 types of citrus and an additional 50 of food products from trees, herbs, and cacti.
IRN builds bridges in the community toward increased cultural competency and diversity awareness. All of Iskashitaa's community relations have the underlying goal of increasing awareness and action for pressing human rights issues both locally and globally through direct contact with individuals and organizations in the Tucson community and beyond.